As I come to write my last article as Moderator, I must give thanks to God and the Church for the pleasant experience of serving as Moderator. My appreciation for things in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church has been enhanced. I desire to thank the others who have written articles to flesh out the theme of this year. Further, I would thank those who have read the articles. I pray they have been profitable and stimulating. Then, I was buoyed along by those who have written notes or called me to comment on the articles. Thanks to all.
The theme for our General Synod this year has been “Fresh Insight from Ancient Paths” from Jeremiah 6:16. In the six months that articles have been published, we have offered insight at important points. Affirming ancient truths, we have sought to explore insight for our current circumstances in ministry.
George Barna has suggested that the “church” or “religion” has lost its integrity because it has conformed with today’s culture. Ministers are found in immoral relationships and churches experience financial fraud. Church members in our culture do not seem to think that the church should hold them to any moral standard. Denominations are in conflict. The lack of integrity in the church has weakened our witness. Truth is a casualty.
Given this common perception of a lack of integrity, we are left finally, and only, with the instruction in truth of the Word of God. The Bible is our friend. The Bible is our safety. The Bible, God has promised to bless. The Westminster Confession of Faith says it well: “… therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times and in diverse manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his Church; and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary;…” (WCF, I, 1)
Without doubt, the Church is stressed; denominations, including our own, have had conflicts. What can we do? We must rally around the Bible and be controlled by its plain statement of truth. The Westminster divines, 400 years ago, recognized the Church’s need of “establishment and comfort.” These are our needs today. Our enemies are all the same, “corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world.”
The world is hostile to our commitments and truth claims. The flesh is our effort to wage a spiritual war with weapons of our own making. We are tempted to a methodology of trendy and popular appeal. We covet the success of fashionable churches with a compromised message. And the Devil uses our weakness of flesh and the world’s excitement to undermine wise and faithful ministry. What shall we do? We must turn to the Bible for “establishment and comfort.”
Long ago God knew the challenges we would face today. He gave us the Bible. The Westminster divines knew the challenges we would face and told us where to look. The “establishment and comfort of the church” is in submission to the truth declared in the Bible. It is the duty of the church to hold to the Bible.
May God the Holy Spirit “establish and comfort” the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and bless it as we affirm that “our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the word in our hearts.”(WCF I, 5)